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Structural diversity of English yew (Taxus baccata L.) populations

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Abstract

In Europe, the English yew species (Taxus baccata L.) is endangered. Intensive human land-use, including forest management, has caused a decrease of the yew populations all over Europe. In Austria, gene conservation forests are used for the in situ conservation of populations of this rare tree species by silvicultural treatments. In order to improve the conservation management in these gene conservation forests, this study addresses the relation between competition and viability of yew populations through the use of structural diversity indices. The structural indices, which include mingling, tree–tree distance, diameter, and tree height differentiation, were determined for a structural group of four trees as well as the neighbouring trees of the male and female yews at the monitoring plots on a regular grid in three gene conservation forests. Although the three study sites provided quite different environmental conditions for English yew, the vitality of each individual yew was influenced by the inter-specific competition of the neighbouring tree species at all sites. Low vitality was associated with a small mean distance to neighbours and large tree height differentiation. In conclusion, we suggest that a combination of different structural indicators is needed for an integrative assessment of conservation status in the gene conservation forests. This would help improve the evaluation of the impact management has on yew population viability.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Mr. Schuster and the owners of the gene conservation forests (Mr. and Mrs. Fürth, Fam. Abel, Fam. Dick as well as ÖBF AG) for their interest in conservation management and their lively support during the field studies. We also thank the Österreichische Bundesforste AG (ÖBF) and the Forest Province Office of Styria for financial support as well as the Österreichische Orient-Gesellschaft (ÖOG) for a One-World Scholarship. The comments and meaningful suggestions of two anonymous reviewers and the subject editor of the European Journal of Forest Research as well as a language check of Ms. Mary Grace Bayer helped us to improve the overall manuscript substantially.

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Correspondence to Amalesh Dhar.

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Communicated by R. Matyssek.

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Ruprecht, H., Dhar, A., Aigner, B. et al. Structural diversity of English yew (Taxus baccata L.) populations. Eur J Forest Res 129, 189–198 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10342-009-0312-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10342-009-0312-4

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